GNU Linux licence for Java platform

The opening up of Java's source code was just one of the announcements made by a reinvigorated Sun Microsystems at the Java One conference

The Java platform will be directly available on open source systems such as Linux, according to an announcement made at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week.

GNU/Linux and OpenSolaris operating systems distributors will be able to ship Java SE 5.0 Java Development Kit (JDK) and Java Runtime Environment, thanks to changes to the Java licensing, says Simon Phipps, chief technology evangelist at Sun Microsystems.

“When we wrote that licence in the 1990s we didn’t know it was going to be toxic to Linux systems,” he says.

The new licence was developed in collaboration with the GNU and Linux community, with participants from all over the world. Among others, the Ubuntu, Gentoo and Debian distributors of GNU/Linux plan to redistribute the JDK, packaged for use with their operating systems.

This is the beginning of a new era for the Java platform, says Mark Shuttleworth, founder and sponsor of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution.

“We are going to see a lot more innovation and exciting things happening with Java,” he says.

One of the first announcements made at the JavaOne conference was that Java itself will become open source.

During the opening presentation, newly appointed CEO of Sun Microsystems Jonathan Schwartz brought Rich Green, executive vice president of Sun software, up onto the stage and asked: “Are you open sourcing Java?”

Green’s answer was positive. But he did not reveal any specific time frames.

“It is not a question of when — it is a question of how,” he says.

According to Green the real challenge around making Java open source is compatibility and consistency.

“We want to ensure that compatibility remains in focus,” he says.

The move to open source has to be made as a group, in collaboration with the developer community, he says.

So how will this affect Sun? It will grow market opportunities, says Schwartz.

“Open source does not mean less revenue,” he says and pointed to the growing Solaris revenue, following the recent decision to open Solaris’ operating system.

“It means that Java will also appeal to customers who will only use open source. Free software helps grow the business, not defeat it.”

He says Sun’s number one imperative is compatibility and the company’s prime agenda is to grow the community, which will boost adoption of Java in the long run.

In contrast to the presentation’s strong focus on free software, Schwartz announced that this year’s gift to attendees was free hardware.

Hedquist travelled to JavaOne courtesy of Sun Microsystems